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Camping & RV Parks:  (Reviews & Descriptions of Vancouver RV parks & Campsites can be found at Recreational Vehicle)

Note for the 2004 Camping season: Provincial Campgrounds have been subject to cutbacks as of 2002, some have been closed down. This is due to the Provincial Governments Draconian cost cutting measures which have affected every aspect of life in this Province over the last year. Coupled with the fact that many Canadians & Americans are planning on staying home this season, rather than go abroad after Sept 11th, you can expect camping spots to be tight, especially in July & August. As far as Government campgrounds are concerned, it is advised to reserve, despite the fact it will cost you an extra $6 a night up to a $18  maximum. Some campgrounds have a proportion of sites set aside as first come-first serve, others are all reservation. This is usually the case with the most popular ones like Lightning lakes in Manning Park. Firewood is also no longer free and you can expect to pay about an extra $6 for an evening campfire.

Vancouver is not a camper friendly city. I still remember seeing some backpackers with a tent set up in Lynn Canyon Park. I had to inform them that they were likely to soon fall afoul of the ranger. They thought they were in the wilderness, not a city park. If you are crossing from the U.S. , your best bet for camping in a reasonably aesthetic area, close to easy transit access is probably in the White Rock area near the US border. Peace Arch RV Park has RV and tent sites (604-594-7009, toll free Reservation 1-800-411-0081, or Fax 604-597-4220). Bayside Campground (604-531-6563) has campsites and RV spots. One of the most convenient, is Timberland Motel & Campground, located on the King George Highway at Highway 99. It is right on the Express bus route to downtown. (Phone 604-531-1033). Alternatively, take the Pacific (Truck) Border Crossing just east of the main Douglas Crossing, proceed up 176th to Highway 1 & head east to 232nd Street exit & then to the Ft Langley Campground described in the next paragraph. Less aesthetic, but closer to downtown and closer to rapid transit in North Surrey, there is Dogwood Campground and RV Park (604-583-5585, Fax 604-583-4725) and Fraser River RV Park (good Skytrain access) at 604-580-1167. Even closer to the city, are Burnaby Cariboo RV Park (see link Below) and Capilano RV Park at 295 Tomahawk in West Vancouver near the north end of Lions Gate Bridge (604-987-4722). During the summer it is advisable to make reservations, all these Parks are usually full. There is also a campground in Richmond, very close to Vancouver Airport. It is located at 6200 River Road, south of the Airport. Phone 604-270-7878 or 1-800-755-4905. They also have a Fax at 604-244-9713. There are other campgrounds in Langley, Aldergrove, Maple Ridge, Mission, Chilliwack, etc, but you are a long way from downtown.

The best bet for outer suburban Camping is the site at Fort Langley & the nearby Derby Reach campground (see Recreational Vehicle section for details). This is located at the outermost point of the Vancouver Transit System. It is a pleasant wooded campground with individual spots for about $18 to $22 depending on hook-ups. It has a store & a swimming pool. To get there, take the 232 St exit off Highway 1 (Trans Canada Freeway) & follow the signs for downtown Ft. Langley. Proceed through the town & cross the bridge at the north end, the Campground is on your left. On the other side of the 232 St. exit is also the Tynehead Park Campground which is considerably more sterile. There is a sign for both campgrounds on the Freeway. Ft. Langley is also described in detail in my Interesting Areas section. The same road that the Ft. Langley Campground is located on, is also the terminus for the Free Ferry over to Maple Ridge. If you take this Ferry over to the other side, turn right & proceed up 232nd Street to Dewdney trunk Road, turn right & follow the signs for Golden Ears Park, you will end up at Golden Ears Provincial Park & Campground. Don't expect to get a spot in this one on a summer weekend unless you have pre-reserved. There is no transit access into downtown unless you drive into the nearby town of Haney & catch the Commuter train. Another popular Provincial Park is located at Cultus lake near Chilliwack. There are 4 campgrounds here (Delta Grove is probably the best of the four). It's south of Highway 1 and you need to follow the signs. Its well marked as you travel west from Chilliwack or east from Abbotsford, but is a good 2 hour drive (in non-rush hour) into Vancouver.

Camping in the rest of the Province is a popular activity in the summer months, especially July and August when the schools are out. Some Provincial campsites have a reservation system (see BC Parks and Discover Camping links below). There are also several campsites run by the Forestry Department which are much more basic and usually off the beaten track. They used to be free, but they now charge, although because they tend to be more remote, chances are you may not have to pay. As far as I know, there is only one guide (Vancouver Island) to these on the net so far. I have provided the link below. You can probably get a complete guide at a government tourist office. Recent cut backs by the Provincial Government has led to many of these closing down in 2002. You can probably still camp at them, but an RV with bathroom facilities would be best , since there will probably be no washroom facilities. Finally, there are many private campgrounds. You can get a book from any tourist office with a list of these.

Bush camping is still possible in BC, although it is not strictly legal. If you do it, make sure you are out of sight of the main highway (including your vehicle) and not on someone's private property. Its quite easy to do, if you are willing to hike off the beaten track. You can also try driving up one of the hundreds of forestry access roads. (Don't do it without a map, or you may get lost) In many areas you will find de facto campsites that others have created. It is advisable to have at least a pickup truck if you are planning to do this and be especially careful of logging trucks which may be using these roads. Some roads require a 4WD vehicle. It is also a good idea to let someone know where you have gone. If you get stuck with a broken down or stuck vehicle, you may be in big trouble unless someone knows where to look for you if you don't return. It is especially necessary to read the Camping precautions section in the table below, if you plan to do this. I have given some info on precautions and risks with regard to animals, fires, etc. If you wish to do bush camping, you can purchase map books in any bookstore showing routes into the back country.  Unfortunately these days, you may find your peace shattered by the sounds of dirt bikes and ATV's (all terrain vehicles) as these people are also looking for the more remote areas. Chances are, though, in mid week, you can find yourself a piece of peaceful Canadian wilderness with only a lake and the call of the Loon, to keep you company. Please pack out or burn your garbage and bury human waste. It is also good to keep in mind that some areas may be at high altitude and temperatures can drop quite low at night even in the summer.

If you wish to rent an RV (Recreational Vehicle), there is a section of links in my Recreational Vehicle section.

If you are thinking of a camping trip around BC, I have a suggested route at Drive BC.

 

Campground Links/ On-Line Reservations: See also my Recreational Vehicle Section.
  

Campgrounds around Greater Vancouver  Local Campgrounds
Campground Critic Western Canada Campground reviews
Campgrounds in BC  Province wide Campgrounds
Fort Langley Campground Bets private Campground near Vancouver
Derby Reach Regional Campground near Ft. Langley
BC Parks - Government Campgrounds Government Campgrounds - Reservations
Super Camping British Columbia Another site with Camping Links
Camping in Canada, campgrounds in Canada, parks in Canada Campsite Guide
British Columbia National Parks Federal National parks
Burnaby Cariboo R.V. Park Inc. RV Park in Burnaby
Fraser Valley RV Parks & Campgrounds Campgrounds and RV Parks east of Vancouver
British Columbia Provincial Campground Directory Extensive Listing by town
Forestry Campgrounds-Vancouver Island Map & Guide (free Campgrounds Van. Island)
Discover Camping . Campsite Reservation Service
Holiday Guide Campground Reservations - British Columbia Another Reservation Service
Tenting Plus of the Northwest! Campgrounds & Hostels Tenting Hostels BC / NW USA
Woodall's...Camping & RVing in the Great Outdoors! General North American Guide
Go RVing Canada Recreation Vehicle Guide
Todds Tent & RV Campground at Peachland in the Okanagan

 

Forest Fires & Bush Camping:

The BC government is extremely paranoid about the possibility of campers starting Forest Fires. The majority of Forest Fires are started by lightning, but they go to great lengths to blame them on campers. The forests of BC have been burning for centuries and this is a natural process, necessary for the general health of the forest as a whole. It gets rid of choking undergrowth and is actually necessary for the reproduction of certain species. Having said that, you should still be careful not to start a forest fire yourself, as the Forest Service tends to take a dim view of it. I'm sure that most tourists, do not want to go home with the knowledge that they are responsible for the destruction of several thousand hectares of Canadian Wilderness. If the idea excites you, you need therapy.

Campfire bans are common, especially in July and August. During the long hot summer of 1998, when it only rained about 3 days from June to September, a total ban was in effect all summer long, and huge forest fires raged throughout the province causing billions of dollars in property damage to the forests and affected communities. You would not believe how easy it is to start a forest fire and how fast it burns, once started. I used to fight forest fires in my younger days, and its scary how fast they can move. Most Provincial Campsites provide wood and fire pits. If the fire danger is high or extreme (Its posted on Highways), avoid lighting a fire at all. If you start a forest fire, good luck, your chances of outrunning it may be slim, and you will be in big trouble with the law, especially if there is a campfire ban. Try to give up smoking for the time you are in the woods. More fires are caused by careless discarding of cigarette butts, than out of control Campfires. Just use common sense, make sure your campfire is in an open area, away from overhanging branches or dry grassland, and build a pit and/or a circle of rocks to help contain it. Never leave a burning campfire unattended and try to have a pail of water nearby, just in case. Ensure the fire is completely doused and is not smouldering before leaving the area.

If you plan on bush camping in remote areas, by venturing up forestry or logging roads, make sure you let someone know where you are planning to go, and make sure you have an off-road map book, and a vehicle in good working order and plenty of fuel. You don't want to be stuck with a broken down or stuck vehicle and have no one know where to look for you. I would advise against venturing up back roads in an ordinary car, a pickup truck, utility vehicle or 4WD are advisable unless you stick to well graded roads. Travelling with friends in two vehicles is always preferable, if possible. Cellular phones will not work in many areas, so don't just rely on one of those. If you have no one to tell where you are planning to go, register at the RCMP in a nearby town, let them know where and how long you are going to be in the bush, and make sure you check in with them on your way out.

Here is the Link to the BC Forest Service Web site: MOF Documents by Subject.

Forest Service Sites:

There are about 1200 Forest Service campgrounds in BC. These vary in size & services. Not all have bathroom facilities & those that do usually consist only of pit toilets. You may be charged a fee of $10 a night or you may not be charged at all. Click here for maps & listings, but to find most sites you need to buy copies of the "Backroads of BC" series. Access to many sites are over rough roads, some of which are only 4 wheel drive accessible. Most roads are passable if you have a truck & camper.

Etiquette:

Please pack out all your garbage (you cannot burn) from the woods while camping. There is nothing more irritating than hiking through the wilderness and finding broken beer bottles, empty cans, etc. on the side of the trail. Most hikers also do not appreciate graffiti on boulders. Try not to trample or pick wildflowers. Some of them are extremely rare.

Dangerous Wildlife to watch out for while Hiking or Camping:

Go to my Wildlife Section for extensive information on this subject.

 

 
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